Book a demo
Get Trial

The Importance of Background Checks: What Information
on Candidates Do Employers Look For When Hiring?

  • /
Background checks for employees are routine procedure performed by employers willing to find
adequate candidates for employment. The amount of personal information that shows up during
a background check can be surprising and may be a critical pre-employment decision-making
factor. But such checks can also extend to current employees and may prove to be vital
in determining the trustworthiness and integrity of personnel.

The procedure involves a thorough examination of the histories of employees and their records.
It involves analysis of personal data on past activities and current engagements. The importance
of a background check resides in the details it can reveal about individuals. The scope
of the verification is can depend directly on the employee's standing within the organization
or the nature of the organization itself. The higher the position, the deeper and more thorough
the background check, involving detailed analysis of everything from hobbies to connections
to identify potential conflicts of interest or involvement in illegal activities.

What Does An Employer Look For In a Background Check?

Such a procedure will involve an analysis of multiple details about an employee's life to fact check them and conduct cross-referencing with both stated details and their verification.

Among the most common and vital elements that will included in a background check are education history, hiring details and reviews from previous employers, work-related details, criminal records
and many other factors. The truthfulness of the CV presented to the employer will also be analyzed, as it is common for candidates to exacerbate or outright lie about their experience or credentials. Unemployment timeframes will also be taken into account, as they can prove to be of interest
in determining why an individual was left without work for a lengthy period of time. Frequent job changes are a red flag that employers always take note of along with their reasons, as they can signify incompetence on the part of the employee.

Driving histories are also included in the verification procedure along with credit histories as factors for determining conscientiousness and trustworthiness. The marital history of employees will also
be analyzed, though it is illegal in some countries to do so. Most importantly, employers will always cross-reference employees, both current and potential, with lists of known terrorists, rapists and other criminals for obvious reasons.

Employers always try to identify potentially threatening details in the behavior and records of their employees. Companies, on the other hand, try to identify vulnerabilities in human resources that could damage their reputations. Most checks take place before interviews, but some higher level positions imply ongoing behavior control to exclude the possibility of threats to the company's standing and operations.

What Does a Background Check Show?

A verification procedure on employees reveals potentially harmful or vulnerable behavior that can have an impact on the performance of the individual or the company as a whole, depending
on the position.

To better relate to examples, a poor driving history involving multiple accidents is a clear indicator that the employee is unfit to work as a driver or courier. Poor credit histories signify
that the individual has trouble in managing their finances and will have little chance of being considered for a position in a bank. Criminal records involving sexual harassment will act as entry barriers to a vast range of positions, especially those involving work with minors.

Different organizations pay attention to different factors during verification of employee histories, depending on the area of their operations. Military organizations will verify how far back one's involvement with foreign contacts goes, while background checks by government organizations
will include verification of how long one has been living in the country.

How Far Back Do Pre Employment Background Checks Go?

The stretch of time encompassed within a verification procedure is determined by the nature
of the employer's business. For instance, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) states no limits
on timeframes. Time limits of ten or fifteen years often limit criminal record transparency,
but that does not mean that the individual was not convicted.

The United States have County, State and Federal level criminal checks that have a scope of search
of seven years. The same limit does not apply to education or employment history verification.

Bankruptcy checks can have a scope of search extending to ten years, much like credit histories, which have a seven to ten year scope. Driving records can be checked anywhere from three
to ten years, while a professional license has a lifetime check period.

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

There is no single answer to how long a background check takes, as that depends on numerous factors, such as the nature of the organization and the details it decides to look for. Most information on employees is not openly available and has to be requested from corresponding authorities,
such as the Central Bank in the case of credit histories, or the police authorities in the case of criminal records. The length of time it takes such authorities to answer largely determines the timeframe
a background check will take.

The most pessimistic scenario is a background check lasting thirty days, as it will involve checks
from a broad range of authorities, including educational institutions and national security organizations. Such checks are conducted, as a rule, for very high-level positions. Average background checks for middle-level personnel do not take longer than five days. Entry-level position background verification does not take longer than 48 hours. Some tests, such as drug tests,
can be taken on the spot and are necessary for some positions.

How Do I Conduct An Employee Background Check?

All companies have an employment policy, which includes a checklist of background details
for all employees. Such a checklist must include a number of aspects that have to be taken
into account to exclude the possibility of having employees with potentially threatening backgrounds.

A common checklist must include personal identification verification, education criminal and credit history checks, as well as some personal details from open sources to analyze the employee's behavior and habits to identify aspects that may prove harmful to the company. Such details can include explicit or intimate details in open sources, involvement in gangs, potentially harmful habits, or openly displayed views of extremist, radical or politically charged nature.

Prior to conducting any background checks or establishing a policy, a company must first seek legal advice to ensure that its requirements do not contradict any laws on personal privacy.


If considering an individual for a position, most serious companies conduct background checks before even inviting a candidate to an interview. Conducting such checks is vital to making sure
that weak links in human behavior or backgrounds are excluded from the list of vulnerabilities
that a company faces in the course of its operations. But it is important to remain within the bounds of the law so as not to violate a candidate or employee's personal privacy.
Start your investigation now
Get in touch and get a free consultation on your specific cases